In certain areas of St. Louis, it is hard to find condoms and the rates of sexually transmitted infections are higher in these “condom deserts,” researchers at Saint Louis University’s College for Public Health and Social Justice found.
[Photo: Dr. Enbal Shacham (photo: CPHSJ Communications)]
The paper, “Condom deserts: geographical disparities in condom availability and their relationship with rates of sexually transmitted infections” by lead author Dr. Enbal Shacham, builds on previous research which identified the geographic disparities in condom availability in St. Louis, particularly in poor neighborhoods.
Dr. Shacham found that in areas where it was harder to find condoms, there were higher rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV infections.
“We have a public health responsibility to reduce the rates of STI/HIV transmission by improving access to condoms,” says Dr. Shacham, adding:
“Prevention efforts designed to increase condom availability and promote condom use should consider geographical disparities to design innovative approaches to address inequities in STI/HIV infection rates and access to health resources.”
The findings come at a time when the United States is reporting 3 million new infections of gonorrhoea and chlamydia, and 50,000 new cases of HIV infection each year. The problem is particularly concerning for St. Louis, which reported the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. and more cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea per capita than any other city or county in 2014, according to the annual report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
[Saint Louis University (photo credit: SLU Marketing and Communications)]
Dr. Shacham, associate professor of Behavioral Science & Health Education, co-authored the paper with Dr. Erik Nelson, post-doctoral fellow in Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Ms. Lauren Schulte, master of public health candidate; Mr. Mark Bloomfield, adjunct faculty of Environmental Health; and Mr. Ryan Murphy, adjunct faculty of Environmental Health at Saint Louis . It was published in the November 2015 issue of Sexually Transmitted Infections.